In my first post I wrote about our decision to install white marble in our kitchen against the advice of so many experts. Mind you I use the term “expert” lightly. I was told by many that it was going to stain, scratch, turn yellow, require constant sealing, and my favorite, “it’s such a soft stone”. I found that last comment the most interesting since marble is a rock and calling a stone soft is an oxymoron. I couldn’t help but think of my prior trips to Europe seeing all of the beautiful old steps, statues and restaurants decorated in marble and wonder why Americans are so afraid of this material. I decided to arm myself with as much information as possible through research and conversations with members of the Marble Institute of America (MIA). Once I understood the stone I was comfortable selecting it as a countertop.
I think it’s imperative that I address the scary stories that keep people from using it in the kitchen. Can it stain? Yes, but not immediately. Can it burn? Yes, but most countertops will burn if you place a scorching hot pan on them. Can it scratch? Yes, but you shouldn’t cut directly on any countertop because that will breed bacteria. Surface scratches can be buffed out if they bother you that much. The real issue with marble is etching. Etching basically looks like water marks but they happen when acidic ingredients are left on the stone (lemon juice, wine, or tomato sauce). Here’s an example of etching of my countertop.
Now here’s an image of that same etched area that I just took a photo of this evening. I had the hardest time even finding it. Etches are practically invisible at night. Even in the daytime you can only see them at certain angles.
If this bothers you, don’t get marble. If you like old things that develop a natural patina, proceed. If you are a neat freak do not get marble or you will lose your mind behind etching.
In order to make our marble a bit more durable to etching we did have it honed. Honing is the process of removing the top layer of shine on polished marble slabs or never putting that shiny layer on the stone to begin with (in the first image you can see how shiny our slabs were). Honed marble is in essence the natural form of the stone. Honed marble etches less than polished marble. We also had our marble leathered. Leathering is a chemical process that gives stone a textured or almost hammered look that I feel allows etching to wear better. With time my countertops should develop a completely aged character which I think is reminiscent of older European stones and that’s the look I was going for.
To be honest, I’ve spilled dark seasonings, tomato sauce and grease on my countertops and have successfully removed every single stain using a natural poultice treatment. I use baking soda, a little water, and a smidge of hydrogen peroxide. I mix this to the consistency of a thick paste, smear it across the stain, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 24 hours. After it’s dried, lightly scrape the powder off, and voila! Gone. I even left some flowers to die on my countertop and the petals and pistons smeared flower ink all over the place. It looked so bad. I won’t lie, I freaked out for about 5 minutes then proceeded to mix the baking soda concoction all over the stains and it was gone the next day. I’m not afraid of staining anymore.
Yes marble is more work than granite, quartz or quartzite, but that added work is a negligible increase in effort. If your wipe down your countertops with a soapy sponge after cooking or entertaining, that’s enough to keep your marble in good shape. I also believe in yearly sealing. Some people swear they don’t seal, but I sometimes leave dishes for the next day so I need that added time buffer. If you need your stone to look as new as the day you purchased it, marble is not for you. If you don’t mind a little wear and tear for the sake of classic beauty, it’s a great choice. Walking into my kitchen every morning makes me happy and I won’t ever regret selecting white marble. I can’t imagine my kitchen without it.